The Clarisonic Classic system is a battery-powered, rechargeable oscillating brush designed for your face. You are supposed to use this device for one minute, which the company claims “Leaves skin feeling and looking smoother” and “Deeply cleanses and clarifies the skin.” The system is also supposed to remove six times more makeup than just using a cleanser.
Why should you spend this much money on a brush to clean your skin? Well, in addition to Oprah Winfrey professing her love for this device (she's given this system more exposure than the company could ever do on its own!) the makers of Clarisonic have a rather official-looking study showing that it reduces oil on the skin.
Their study looked at 30 adults with oily skin. During one visit, each participant had one side of their forehead manually cleansed and the other half was cleansed with the Clarisonic brush and cleanser. The results? The amount of “surface sebum remaining after cleansing with the Clarisonic was found to be significantly less than that remaining after cleansing manually.” We wouldn’t hang our hats on this trivial research.
Comparing the brush to just regular washing isn’t much of a comparison—what about comparing the Clarisonic to manual cleansing with a cleanser other than the Clarisonic version? Perhaps their cleanser isn’t adequate for removing oil without using their brush. What would have been more relevant would have been to compare the Clarisonic to manual cleansing with a washcloth. We suspect that the washcloth would have proven just as effective and, to say the least, far less expensive. Such a comparison was done at a later date, and published in the February 2005 issue of the peer reviewed journal, Cosmetic Dermatology.
The dermatologist who authored the report states that the Clarisonic cleaned best because it removed the most makeup compared to standard cleansers, a scrub, and a face cloth. Aside from the fact that Clarisonic paid for the study, (there have been no independent studies), what wasn't mentioned was the brand names of the cleansers used, or what the results would have been had the participants used a makeup remover before cleansing. The Clarisonic Web site lists other studies to support their claims and efficacy, but all of them were conducted by the team behind these products. In that sense, they're simply not as reliable as third-party, double-blind, substantiated research.
Bottom line: We're not saying that Clarisonic's brush is not a good way to clean skin. What we are saying is that it is not the only nor is it the best way to clean skin or remove makeup. Without question, it is needlessly expensive and not something anyone should go into debt for out of concern their skin is not getting clean enough. Besides, if you want to see what all the fuss is about, you can check out the similar cleansing brush system from Olay's Pro-X brand (this retails for around $30).
The only other published piece of information about Clarisonic simply described how the sonic cleansing worked to provide consistent results and help loosen debris trapped in pores due to the oscillating brush head. Sounds promising, but the piece was written by Pacific Bioscience Laboratories, the company that, you guessed it, sells Clarisonic (Source: Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, June 2006, pages 181-183).
This brush will certainly help clean skin (and for that reason it deserves a Good rating), but it won't reduce wrinkles, pore size, or blemishes--at least not to a degree where you'll be glad you splurged on the system. The basic system includes two brush heads (for normal and sensitive skin); a Delicate brush head is available for separate purchase (all brush heads cost $25 apiece). The Delicate brush is recommended for very sensitive skin; however, regardless of brush head chosen, I'd use caution if you're attempting to use Clarisonic and have rosacea or sensitive skin.
Note: If you decide to use this or any other cleansing brush on your skin, please be gentle. Overzealous usage can lead to inflammation that can hurt your skin's healing process. Pay attention to how your skin responds and discontinue (or reduce frequency of) use if you see signs of irritation.